Eighty-five years of art and history through the eyes of a woman who fled her family – as re-imagined by her granddaughter.
Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette never knew her mother’s mother. Curious to understand why her grandmother, Suzanne, a sometime painter and poet associated with Les Automatistes, a movement of dissident artists that included Paul-Émile Borduas, abandoned her husband and young family, Barbeau-Lavalette hired a private detective to piece together Suzanne’s life.
Suzanne, winner of the Prix des libraires du Québec and a bestseller in French, is a fictionalized account of Suzanne’s life over eighty-five years, from Montreal to New York to Brussels, from lover to lover, through an abortion, alcoholism, Buddhism, and an asylum. It takes readers through the Great Depression, Québec's Quiet Revolution, women’s liberation, and the American civil rights movement, offering a portrait of a volatile, fascinating woman on the margins of history. And it’s a granddaughter’s search for a past for herself, for understanding and forgiveness.
‘It’s about a nameless despair, an unbearable sadness. But it’s also a reflection on what it means to be a mother, and an artist. Most of all, it’s a magnificent novel.’
– Les Méconnus
‘This is prose to lose yourself in. Never complicated, it’s gentle like a love song, comforting and enveloping like a black-and-white film, full of tones and textures. These sentences can destroy us. Not for their simplicity, but for the powerful beauty within the simplicity. ’ —Peter McCambridge, ‘Best Translated Book Award: Why This Book Should Win,’ on Suzanne